New Edition of Dinosaurs of Africa arrived today!

Just IN! Glad to report that Anusuya ChinsamyTuran has updated her popular book, carrying all the weight of the edition herself! Very glad to continue to participate in her great work adding some new artwork… obviously most of the old artwork are still there, but things like Nyasasaurus and new, updated versions of Spinosaurus have been added…

This is mostly a handsome, popular book for kids with a lot of updated information and done with lots ion love… Dinosaurs

Posted in African Prehistory, Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, Dinosaurs of Africa, Spinosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Never Try To Bite More Than You Can Chew.

Maastrichtian in Dakota. A couple of young Dakotaraptor decide to try their luck and hike an adult Triceratops… or a relative. Is Dakotaraptor for real? There have been so many doubts but I also doubt that Utahraptor was the only giant Raptor.

So, since I always fancied a confrontation between two dumb oversized birds and a tank, I had to select animals that >might< have been contemporary. The sight of lions harassing hippos for territory sparked some ideas.. But hippos don’t have a three horned face and spiked armoured skin!

The theory is that Dakotaraptor, if real and no more elements of its skeleton are assigned to some other genus or even some other animal (as we know the furcula was eliminated, as was later found to be a bone that belonged to a turtle), was more gracile than Utahraptor. So the agility and temper might have been there.

No fight for territory would compensate for the fact that climbing the heavily armoured charging monster, not taking in consideration the size or the fact that they had to use their whole set of claws to cling to that armour for their lives, probably even getting injured or impaled right there against the ceratopsian skin.

And now that we are here, don’t forget: there are quite a few copies of EXTREME DINOSAURS PART 2, THE PROJECTS still awaiting to be purchased by some lucky people!

If you don’t fancy Amazon or eBay, Enquire within.

Posted in ceratopsians, Dakotaraptor, Dinosaurs, EXTREME DINOSAURS II. THE PROJECTS, maniraptora, Paleoart, Raptors, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The ongoing Spinosaurus Saga… now a nesting ground.

Faithful to my traditional custom of showing extreme views, I was compelled to do one with Spinosaurus. I had taken several pictures of a then intriguing, spectacular Spinosaurus skull fragment that was on display in Italy many years ago. Unbeknownst to me in those ages, the upper jaw was displayed upside down, as if it were the lower jaw! You can imagine my surprise when years later I discovered that in reality it was the upper jaw.

So what I did was: turn my pictures around and do a full study of how the jaws would look on a full frontal view. The results showed that Spinosaurus, contrary to many depictions including the obvious Jurassic Park one, had a skull that was even narrower than expected, almost gavial-like and that that the conical teeth were splayed outwards. It can be argued that that way it was better suitable for catching fish… But the evidence is not conclusive… many outspreading jaws are not specifically designed for fish-catching. The teeth sere rather big, conical as expected and surprising for any theropod. No wonder the Spinosaurus remains were once considered not to be a dinosaur’s.

Here’s my preliminary study that required quite a few modifications in the final stages. Spinosaurus is a puzzle that is far from being resolved. However, I still stick with the notion that the current evidence we have so far continues to show us a water dwelling-swamp dwelling animal that would be very cumbersome walking on land. It is virtually impossible that this animal would be running around in two legs, despite the current trend that has preference for the Ideal (as much as I’d love to be proven wrong…sorry Scott Hartman!). The hands are oustpread as in any theropod but more so if this animal was adapted for a virtually quadrupedal stance… more evidence is needed!, so this may change any time soon. The little mounds I depicted here are crocodile-like nests. The sauropods in the background are Paralititan

This is an ongoing project that will continue to be modified and show advances as we gather more evidence. This new reconstruction overrides the previous ones , especially in details of the tail. The final product will be shown in full in our future Kickstarter project by Hector Splintersaurus Munive and myself. A nesting ground seems apt since a baby Spinosaurus model is in the making and will be part of the project!

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Ubirajara, the controversy rages on.

At the moment these pictures were happening, I couldn’t post them for obvious reasons… this is Hector “Splintersaurus” Munive and Dahlia Castillo working on the first-ever model of Ubirajara, the strange, protofeathered and exotically ornate Sinosauropteryx-like theropod from Brazil I had reconstructed a while ago and was commenting in the previous post. He was basing this sculpture (soon to be released) on the technical drawing by the authors of the paper, and my own reconstruction…

Interestingly enough, I’ve just got this important article (courtesy of Marcos Pinheiro)

It seems that the publication of such valuable specimen is in trouble after all, and the paper has been withdrawn from Science magazine.

“This type of letter is normal, but usually discussing academic issues. In this case, it was different. In addition to discussing some points about the description of the dinosaur, we asked ethical questions, which are of interest to Brazilian society. The main point is regarding the legality of this fossil being out of the country, ” paleontologist Taissa Rodrigues told Sputnik Brasil.

So what next for Ubirajara? Ruffling feathers is say little… I hope this matter gets settled as soon as possible! I’d very much like to hear the opinions scientific and otherwise from the Brazilian palaeontologists.

Posted in Brazilian Palaeontology, Dinosaurs, maniraptora, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Having Fun with the new, revolutionary Ubirajara jubatus.

A while ago I received a commission regarding a very secret new paper about to be released. A Brazilian specimen’s reconstruction by the team of Dino Frey et al that was simply staggering… basically it looked like a very ornamented version of Sinosauropteryx or Compsognathus . I was very pleased to be selected to do the job, after all Sinosauropteryx or Compsognathus-like dinosaurs are some of my all time favourirtes and my actual “feathered dinosaur” saviour in 1997, when we, the Feathered Gang were all vindicated for the first time on stone…

This time, however, the stone specimen in question was a bit of a mess. Only a mass of protofeathers with two (or more?) protruding long (apparently straight) quills, which location frankly I couldn’t make sense very well as it was very incomplete, disarticulated and quite messy. Quite a lot of imagination was needed to reconstruct it, especially the external integument, that, for me, calls for bright, exotic iridescent colours .

I thought the reconstruction made by the authors was very courageous and I followed it closely. There was an issue though: the straight quills were a dilemma… were they there, where they complete? I started to play with its purported shoulder location. It was to look like a display items similar to the Bird of Paradise, with an extra hump of matted wills along its torso. After several attempts the authors seemed to agree to my last attempt, but after all it wasn’t precise enough for them so it didn’t make it to the finalised paper (link enclosed)

I now have seen the published paper more in detail, but it still seems to me that there are many possibilities for the allocation of those filaments or ornaments… so for simple fun, I’m showing you here the whole process of trying to make an incredible animal believable…. My two favourites are the ones featured on top… but please be my guest: you can select which one you prefer!

And here is the paper… I’m sure it will ruffle some feathers!

Posted in Dinosaur colouration, Sinosauropteryx, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paleoart in Mexico 2. Metepec and Beyond.

In the previous post I chronicled a bit of the the creative power that Mexico exercises on me and my different collaborations each time we go down there.

Meet some more P-art produced under our shared spell!

Meet Frida Soteno… she might be only 15, but she has already won awards for outstanding art and clay work and is progressing at a breathtaking pace. She got her painting skills mostly from her mom, Blanca Jimenez. Somehow I managed to convert her to paleo art via this excellent notebook that she bound herself … there might be more in the future, who knows?

When her dad Israel Soteno and myself started working on the Spinosaurus jar Metepec style little did we know things were going to get complicated.

Little did we know what would happen when we put the jar in the extremely talented hands of Pichón López and his wife Diana that turned the vase into a masterwork of paleo-surrealism…

Then there’s the Paleo-Mexican food! The workshop of Héctor Splintersaurus Munive was also responsible for these amazing sugar dinosaur skulls and the special Day of the Dead Dinosaur bread (chocolate bones and all!). Velafrons, Labocania and Yehuecauhceratops.

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The Next Project will be coming from Mexico (again).

It was that time of the year, again. There were only two things that made would made us brave the elements and risk everything in these horrible pandemic times: going back to the Soteno family in Metepec and continue my work with Héctor “Splintersaurus” Munive in the Spinosaurus project. soon to be unleashed in Kickstarter! We found that despite everything, Mexico is well prepared regarding the very much needed precautions. We avoided any public transport and every place you go was well sanitised, usage of masks compulsory and our temperature was taken at the entrance of virtually every place.

Besides directly landing and having a fixed base in Metepec, Toluca, our only other outing to Mexico City was when we had the pleasure and privilege to be transported directly to Héctor and Dahlia’s magnificent studio in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, a rather alien place for most turists… but hey, we are no tourists in Mexico!

After going through Sebastian‘s emblematic “Coyote” at the entrance of the city (yes, he was an old teacher of mine from San Carlos Academy more than 40 years ago!) we reached Héctor and Dahlia’s workshop…it was a chaotic albeit well organised place where the tools are always ready and the casts abounded everywhere. I even found a whole mural of mine right at the living room!

And yes, we got on directly to a double online session of dinosaur chat AND drawings… unfortunately out of reach of the personal presence of so many dinofans that would have liked to be there… all were absent except perhaps a handful of the greatest, including the mighty Yadira Albor and family with Kinich (a veritable future paleoartist) and the ineffable Isaac Camacho (youngest and greatest dinoexpert ever… every palaeontologist should be scared to lose their jobs to him!) with his mom Jana Ceja. Thanks to Julius Csotonyi for carnotaur inspiration!

Needless to say we got on quickly to premiere a first glance of Héctor’s models for the project. I have already written a good deal as introductory text and all my Spinosaurus sketches and illustrations are going to be featured inside the (probably) 50 page booklet, and posters accompanying Hector’s awesome 1:10 Spinosaurus skull cast.

The project might include, one day, either a full scale Spinosaurus skull or even a great baby Spinosaurus coming out on an egg. Héctor was adamant to get this done based on the hypothetical sketches I’ve already gave him and can be seen in other blogs here. On top of that we had an in situ, step by step casting session of my biggest, better preserved, Spinosaurus tooth I got from Morocco a long time ago, a cast that is going to also be an award included in the project.

This excellent day culminated with a fantastic meal, previewing Hector and Dahla’s new restaurant-in-the-making “Eating With Dinosausrs” previewing of the wonderful Txapataraptor (chicken, what else?) and Deinosuchus Arrachera sandwiches… crocodile bread included!

But it was time to get back to our Soteno family in Metepec and Israel was giving me a hand to finish this awesome Spinosaurs jar, Metepec Style! Israel and I spent a couple of evenings finishing it… a culmination of the Spinosaurus season.

… but little did I know what was going to happen when I took the piece to to be ‘esmaltada” by the extremely talented Pichones Family from Metepec. They went wild! I gave them some instructions as to what could be done with it, but at the end they took the upper hand and finished this masterpiece in their own inimitable style! Take that dinoart lovers… here’s an almost Picasso like rendering of Spinosaurus!

Even the horrid, nightmarish trips wit Iberia were worth the aggravation at the end (They certainly did not cater Txapataraptor in the menu). I thank you Metepec and Mexico once again for making bearable these unbearable times. Hope we’ll meet again soon!

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…and now for the Spinosaurus Apotheosis Downfall.

I will leave this here. Almost no words necessary… needless to say there will be comparisons and zoologists will know where this scene is coming from, only that it is at such colossal scale that is difficult to think of it as “realistic”… at least is not a JP chimerical T. rex vs Spinosaurus… this is Carcharodontosaurus vs Spinosaurus.

We can imagine a slow motion ambush finally break into a frenzy. I’m turning the tables around. We have seen Spinosaurus playing the crocodile against other predators and non predators, and of course we know it was a fish-eating machine… but Carcharodontosaurus might have known precisely where the Spinosaurus was more vulnerable to attack.

Fanciful indeed but not as much as other flights of fancy.

I’m also celebrating that I’m again working with Anusuya Chinsamy in an update of our old book African Dinosaurs that she herself will be publishing very soon…

This is also a great opportunity to upset Hector Munive “Splintersaurus” adding this to our own pet project about his cherished Spinosaurus… project soon to be released that is going to surprise everybody (hopefully)… in the meantime I leave you with an invitation to the opening of Héctor and Dalia’s new Museum restaurant in Mexico “Comiendo Con Dinosaurios” (Eating With Dinosaurs)…date still to be announced, but most probably will be around the Day of the Dead this deadly year 2020!

Posted in Spinosaurs, Theropods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Spinosaurus finally takes to the waters…

Lately, this blog is in danger of becoming an obsessive fan club of the Spinosaurus saga, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of finally doing a water-bound restoration of our favourite fisher kings… I understand that the paleo-art market may be saturated of images of him doing what he did best, but… political scourges, lock-downs , coronaviruses and above all, an overall horrid 2020 won’t stop any paloartistic passion for long!

Rest assured: this restoration is based in the most accurate references possible, bone by bone. Looking at the different fossils and reconstructions, I’m really starting to agree that the Spinosaurus genus must have had several different species with different characteristics, some were more sturdy than the others, but I’ll leave that for following studies and the ever elusive final restoration of a complete skeleton.

In the meantime for reasons of space I had the main protagonist hunting a smalli-ish Coelacanth. We know there were many bigger species living with Spinosaurus, but the gavial-like jaws were probably not powerful enough to deal with the enormous species of lungfish, sharks or sawfishes that were also contemporary according to Ibrahim et al.

It’s been a very long time since my first Spinosaurus reconstruction from 2001 (or so) and you can see much has changed! Will it change even more in the future?

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Yet More Spinosaurus! A matter of legs. The Ideal Vs Scientific papers.

I have always been a fan of the skeletal models from a very talented Chinese, popular sculptor that I found via Internet 袁圣钊 (Yuan Shengzhao). I recommend any serious collector to get in contact with him. Not only his replicas are accurate but he is willing to collaborate when you raise any objections.

I like perfectionism and that is what happened here. I purchased his new Spinosaurus skeletal model, hoping that such serious 3D reproductions would be accurate to the maximum.

When it arrived, it was indeed an exquisite replica of a modern Spinosaurus skeleton… only there was a problem. I noted that the proportion of the legs were not based on the paper by Sereno, Ibrahim et al… but it was a perfect source to look at Spinosaurus from what anyone would consider the new “Ideal” …the skeleton was in fully fledged aquatic mode and the legs size were “perfect”… only that the perfection was for an ideal model that is still not verified by the evidence…!

So noting that, I made him aware that the legs ‘should’ heve been at least a quarter shorter… and to my amazement he offered to correct it based on the Ibrahim model… and here you have it.

He sent me the corrected legs and now I have TWO sets of legs that I can compare (and maybe change in the future, who knows!).

So everything goes down to the legs…Yes you might like the longer legs better, but actually the final product is the one I display now and will serve me for future refereece in my new aquatic reconstructions of Spinosaurus…. this is a sketch of one that will be finished very soon.

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